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State Cuts AIDS Group Grants

State Cuts AIDS Group Grants

A Little Rock nonprofit that provides HIV prevention services to black men who have sex with men has had grant activities suspended while the state conducts an audit of the group. Last week an audit of Brothas and Sistahs Inc. found $6,131 in undocumented expenses from a $50,000 state Minority Health Commission grant.

"With previous expenditures by this organization already under review by legislative audit, granting additional funds to the same organization isn't a prudent move while a state review is ongoing, even if these are federal, and not state, funds," said Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe.

Deidra Levi, who runs Brothas and Sistahs, says state officials "are just doing their job," and she expects they will find no problems with the group's two current grants -- one for $50,000 to educate black MSM about HIV and $12,000 for syphilis education. Both are funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The MHC grant has expired. Health department deputy director Mary Leath says that by suspending grant activities, her agency will no longer reimburse the nonprofit for expenses toward the purposes of the grant. Auditors are looking at expenses associated with health dpartment grants, Leath says.

The department has so far reimbursed the group $30,000 of the $50,000 AIDS grant and $7,500 of the syphilis grant, according to spokesman Ed Barham.

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